Tuesday, June 24, 2008



The whole of Chicago itself is big a tourist attraction, with the downtown, lakeside road, parks, museums, shopping malls, temples, etc.

Downtown is very beautiful and lively with huge buildings, rivers and Lake Michigan. Reaching there through train is advised to avoid difficulty in parking your car. Free trolleys with frequent intervals are available in Downtown connecting all places. In addition to this regular bus services, water taxis are also available which are affordable.

Water Taxi

Not windowshield -- two fountains -- scene from water taxi

In Downtown, Sears Building is the tallest building. Hancock is the second tallest building. You can reach top of these buildings through elevator (ticketed) and view the surroundings. From the observation deck of Sears’s towers you can see the whole of Chicago’s concrete jungle and from Hancock tower you find a variety of water, greenery and of course the concrete jungle of Chicago. Due to long waiting lines, we missed these views.

Architectural tours in big boats are available which cost about $60 per head for a one-and-half hour trip around Chicago’s famous buildings.

Navy Pier, located on the lake side of the Downtown is a big tourist attraction with people hanging out at the pier and also in a couple of museums along the way. Boat rides are available into the Michigan Lake and one can also take water taxis from here to different places. Other attractions at Navy Pier include a children’s museum, funhouse maze, stained glass window museum, Pier Park, etc.

Funny Images in mirror exhibited at Navy Pier
Stained glass window

Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Summer (Friday before Memorial Day - Labor Day)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight

Fall (Tuesday following Labor Day through October)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Winter (November 1 - March 31)
Monday -Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

Spring (April 1 - The Thursday before Memorial Day)
Sunday - Thursday: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Friday & Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Closed on Thanksgiving Day and December 25

Visit www.navypier.com for further information.

Millennium Park:

A must visit place on the Michigan avenue is the Millennium Park, where you can spend a whole evening. This park originally used to be a parking lot for a railroad. To preserve the railroad a park was developed around it and originally named Grant Park. The increased development of Chicago called for a need of a place to arrange musical shows and Grant Park was chosen and developed even further sidelining the railroad history to far corner, thus, giving birth to Millennium Park and was open to public in 2004. The most prominent feature of this park is a huge and highly sophisticated open air auditorium “Jay Pritzker Pavilion” for open air concerts. Another prominent feature in this park is the “Cloud Gate”, a 110 ton elliptical structure made up of seamless highly polished stainless steel plates, which gives you a very beautiful view of the Chicago skyline and also you can see yourself in a number of shapes once you stand under it. This park is open free for public from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm all the seven days of a week.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion -- Open Air Auditorium

Cloud Gate

Visit www.millenniumpark.org for further information.

You can spend all the time at your disposal in the above places.


BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir, Aurora, Chicago:

BAPS is an internationally renowned socio-spiritual organization involved in humanitarian activities through a world-wide network of 9,090 centres, 550 temples and 55,000 volunteers. This traditional Hindu Mandir is a masterpiece of exotic design and workmanship. Over 7000 tons of Italian Carerra marble and Turkiosh limestone were hand-carved by skilled craftsmen in India and assembled in just 16 months. Ancient Indian arts, tradition and philosophy have been encompassed in this house of worship.

There is a video show illustrating how this grand monument was created and its purpose. The vibrant panels lead you through a journey of discovery in the origins, science and beliefs of Hinduism.

Bhagwan Swaminarayan (original name Nilkanth) renounced his home at the age of 11, toured 8000 miles barefoot across the length and breadth of India. You can offer your prayers at Nilkanthvarni.

This Mandir is open to all visitors without any entry fee with the following restrictions:

Dress code: Neat casual attire. No sleeveless tops. No shorts. No skirts shorter than knee length.

Video & Photography, Cell Phones: Sorry, in the Mandir not allowed. From ground level outside the Mandir and Haveli – as you wish.

Smoking or tobacco products of any kind are not allowed on the premises.

Food and drink are also not allowed on the premises. But there is canteen and sweet stall with Gujarathi varieties.

Other facilities include elevator, wheelchair access and guided tours.

Visiting Hours 9.00 am to 7.00 pm

Viewing sacred deities: 9.00 am to 10.15 am

11.15 am to 12.00 pm

4.00 pm to 6.15 pm

7.00 to 7.45 pm

Allow at least 90 minutes for an enjoyable visit (of course excluding canteen and photo session)

For further information please contact:

BAPS – Shri Swaminarayan Mandir – Chicago

4N739 IL Route 59, Bartlett, IL 60103

Phone 630.213.BAPS, Fax 630.213.2088


Balaji Temple, Aurora, Chicago:

You can worship the deities Sri Venkateswara Swami, Lakshmi, Andal, Siva, Parvathi, Ganesh, Kumara Swami with Valli, Devasena etc. and also meet a number of Telugu, Tamil speaking people here. Don’t miss vada, pongal in the canteen. Photography not allowed inside the temple premises. Check for the timings online before you go as they may change seasonally. Also, check for important events at the temple premises.

Temple hours 9:00AM to 9:00PM


1145 W. Sullivan Rd., Aurora, IL-60506, Phone: 630 844 2252

Devon Avenue:

In this street, you can find all varieties of Indian and Pakistani stores. One of these popular stores we visited is the Patel bros. groceries shop. Patel Brothers has a very big groceries shop in which you can get all the Indian varieties you name, including ripe mangos, required by any Indian, to whichever State of India one may belong. You will find ganna ras (sugarcane juice), tender coconuts; just outside the shop. A very convenient facility provided by them is that you can take the shop’s cart loading all the items purchased by you up to your car (you park your car a long way away from this shop due to thousands of visitors), by depositing $5 which will be returned back to you immediately after you returned the cart by a person standing outside the shop for this purpose only. So, you need not carry the load of your entire groceries up to your car. Very convenient , isn’t it? Shops on this street are closed by 8:30 in the night.